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Vintage Photos from My Vending Days

Thought I’d share these “vintage” photos from vending days gone by: The first photo is from the Chumash Pow Wow in Ojai, CA, circa 1994. We’d just finished breaking down our vendor booth. By that stage in my life, I’d already been vending at art shows and festivals for about 7 years!

The woman on the left was a sweet friend from England, who used to import my work so that she could sell it in her stall at the Glastonbury Festival! (Does that event still exist?). The babe in my arms is now 26 years old, and in grad school.

The second photo shows some beaded leather bags that I made around that same era. As you can see, my style has changed a bit in the 25 yrs since these pictures were taken. Some things remain constant: my material choices (beads, leather, natural gemstones), a love of color and natural themes, skilled craftsmanship, and passion for my work and the people who inspire me to create.

handcrafted beaded buckskin bags circa 1994

This path has not always been easy, but I love it all the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons behind me, and hopeful for many years ahead. Some of you have been with me through this whole journey (thank you, I love you!) and some are just joining now (thanks, you rock!).

Please know that I genuinely appreciate every bit of support and encouragement along the way. May it come back to you tenfold  ❤

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Down the Laser Rabbit Hole (pew pew)

I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.

Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!

Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.

1st attempts at engraving glass.files.

It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.

laser engraved leather mandalas

Glowforge production units are starting to ship now and based on my experience with the pre-release unit, I can heartily recommend this product. If you’d like to order one, please consider using this referral code for a $100 discount off your purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m not being paid for this endorsement (I am a very satisfied user) but if you do use the referral code that I just linked, it’ll give me a bit of a discount on my order too. Win-win.

laser engraved bone beads
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Lunar Jewels

I’ve updated the site with a handful of new beaded semiprecious stone necklaces. Several feature labradorite, many have lunar themes (which I’ll be exploring throughout the year), and a couple give a nod to Bowie. From left to right, as seen in this photo, they are:

Serious Moonlight” (sold) – a pair of simple yet beautiful gemstone layering necklaces. These are less intricate – and thus, more affordable – than a lot of my beadwork, and they were fun to make. I’ve already had requests for more like these, and will do my best to comply as time allows.

Snow Moon” – Bone and amethyst necklace inspired by the February full moon

“Sage and Seafoam” – Labradorite necklace with amazonite and Peruvian Opal

Blackstar” – Labradorite and sterling silver with charcoal glass beads.

Owl & Moonstone” – A carved leather owl on the wing, with Welo opal and moonstone.

Eclipse” – Labradorite, hematite and freshwater pearls, set in dusky blue seed beads.

Oh – and I’m trying something new with this update, and including tidbits about symbolism and folklore. Over the years I’ve come to realize that many people wear jewelry as symbols or reminders of ideas that are special to them (mothers’ rings, for example) so I’ve included some of that info. Believe it if you need it, if you don’t just pass it on.

There are a few stragglers that still need finishing touches and/or better photos, so they’ll be added as time allows. I’ve needed to rebuild my jewelry selection for months now, and this feels like a good start!

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New Hair Toys, Coming Soon!

leather oak leaves
leather oak leaves

These photos show some of the leather hair accessories that I’ve been working on recently. They’re mostly finished, they just need findings (hair sticks, French clips, or alligator clips). I’ll be finishing these up in the week(s) ahead, and getting them all photographed and listed here on the website.

At this point, the bulk of the work is done, but it can still take a while to get the finishing touches done and to get them all photographed. If you spot one that you love, but you don’t see it listed yet, just drop me a line (either via my contact form, or in the messages below).

At this time, I have a variety of leather oak leaves, as well as peacock feathers and birch leaves.

leather peacock feathers
leather peacock feathers
leather-barrettes-birches
leather-barrettes-birches
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Clearing Out the Clutter….

some of the hair toys that I’ve completed since last week 🙂

After last week’s post about the state of my studio, I decided to take action. My time is still limited, and I’m still not able to tackle some of the bigger projects that I’d like to, but I did make a dent in the UFO (“unfinished objects” 😉 pile.

As you can see, my tile overfloweth. Everything shown is finished, meaning that all hair slides have sticks and all barrettes have findings. Believe it or not, I still have MORE hair toys in progress. There are a few magpies, a couple of owls, a firebird (notice a theme?) more oak leaves and a couple of faeries. But before I tackle those, I think that I will make an effort to list these on my website and on Etsy, and also try to make a little headway on the masks and wings that need to be finished.

So, I haven’t finished everything that I showed last week, but I have made some progress. I feel better already!

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Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine

A pile of leather masks & wings in progress…

School has been taking a lot of my focus and energy of late, so my creative time has been very limited. It’s somewhat uncomfortable, since being creative is really how I process the things that are going on in my life. I tend to think a lot (sometimes to the point of over thinking) so making is a very soothing process for me; my hands get moving and my mind begins to still. It helps me to relax, to sift out my ideas and to find solutions.

Without this outlet, I get a little high strung. That feeling has been hitting critical mass lately, and I’ve been out of sorts. Irritable, restless and generally feeling unproductive and uninspired. I was really starting to get stressed out about this, when I took a second look at my studio.

I began to realize that I haven’t stopped being creative, I just haven’t been able to complete as much with the limited studio time. I’m able to peck away at a variety of projects here and there, I’m just not finishing as many of them. As you can see by the photos here, I have quite a lot of  pieces “in progress” that are piling up. The masks above and the hair toys below represent just a fraction of the projects in my studio right now.

Assorted hair toys awaiting completion

A quick count tells me that my unfinished projects include at least 12 odd masks, 7 pair of wings, 6 or 7 crowns and headdresses, and more hair toys than I can count. That’s not even counting beadwork or leather jewelry (let’s not even go there). It’s typical for me to have several projects going on at once, since I tend to group things in “stages”. For example, I’ll cut out several patterns at once, then shape, then paint, then embellish them in “groups”. Groups of this size are unusual, though. I’m thinking this may be where some of my restlessness and dissatisfaction is coming from.

It’s ironic how often the state of my studio parallels the state of my head and heart 😉 I think that the clutter in my creative space is cluttering up my head! So I’m making a commitment to whittle this pile down by at least half within the next month. It’ll clear up some work space, and hopefully open up room for some fresh attitudes and ideas as well.

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Evolution…

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I was recently searching through some old files, and I came across this picture (to the left) of one of my imp masks. It may be my original prototype, which I created around 2001.

The reason it caught my attention is that I still

create this style of mask today. The picture at the right shows the current version. I’ve made some minor modifications to the original pattern, such as lengthening the tips and horns, and rounding out the cheek area at the bottom – but for the most part, the pattern is still the same. I think the biggest changes are in the intangible factors, like time and skill.

In the 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making this particular styleof mask, I’ve honed my skills and learned better techniques for shaping and coloring. In addition, I’ve had the benefit of a few mistakes along the way, which have taught me which paints and sealants to use. It may not have felt “beneficial” at the time, but the knowledge has really helped me to improve the quality of my work.

I still have much to learn, and I view my work as a constant process of experimentation and evolution … which includes plenty of mistakes. Still, it’s nice to be able to look back and realize that I’ve made a bit of progress along the way. Here’s hoping that my work will continue to improve and evolve over time.
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